By Tom Hoover, Sausalito Historical Society
On Tuesday March 19, Galilee Harbor residents were devastated to discover Steefenie Wicks deceased on her houseboat, Jenny. Almost immediately Galilee Harbor, the Sausalito Historical Society and the Sausalito Woman’s Club began thinking about her memorial service; and that evening Galilee held an impromptu gathering, toasting her memory by the Issaquah Pilot Houses which she was so proud of, having been active in saving and siting them at the entrance to her beloved harbor and community. Steefenie was 71 years old.
She came to California from St. Louis, Missouri in 1969 with the love of her life, Tom Wicks, whom she married in 1970. After her family moved to the Haight, she attended San Francisco State where she studied photography and cinema. Upon graduation she became an intern and archivist for Imogen Cunningham and her Foundation. Her husband Tom, a ship’s carpenter and restorer, worked at San Francisco’s Maritime Museum on the Balclutha. They came to Sausalito to visit friends at Gate 3, and then purchased an old buoy boat, Tiger Lily. Living at Galilee and maintaining her studio at Gate 3, she met her neighbors Annette Rose, Chris Hardman, Phil Frank, Tom Hoover and Jack VanderMeulen, becoming involved with Art Zone and Sausalito’s waterfront struggles to preserve a bit of the maritime and artistic heritage from the rapacious real estate developers of the era. They moved to Galilee in ’84 and became very involved with that community’s role in the so-called Houseboat or Waterfront Wars. Tom passed away in 2011 after 41 years of happy marriage.
During the 90’s she came into possession of some 350 glass-plate negatives salvaged from an old photography studio South of Market that had been the center of the Greek community before and after the earthquake and fire of ’06. She worked hard at restoring this historical treasure and sharing it with the Greek community. This led to several exhibits, in San Francisco, at Stanford and ultimately in Athens and Istanbul, chronicling San Francisco’s role in the Greek diaspora. She donated her negatives to the San Francisco Library where some were used in the recently published book Greeks in San Francisco.
Moreover, Steefenie became a prolific columnist and writer. Not only did she chronicle her Greek research in the San Francisco Historical Society’s prestigious journal, Argonaut, but she began writing many interviews and articles for Sausalito’s Historical Society columns in the MarinScope, becoming more and more involved with the Society’s activities. She recorded oral histories and docented at the Museum for nearly 10 years and also at the Ice House. She became a Board member in 2014. Her involvement notably included public relations, chairing fund-raising Galas, curating the No Name Bar exhibit and serving a term as the Board’s Vice President; to all these activities and more she brought her verve, energy and panache.
Steefenie also joined the Sausalito Woman’s Club in 2016, performing memorably as “God” or the “Creatrix” in the Jinx of that year, and involving herself with her usual creativity and vigor in their activities. As fellow MarinScope columnist Larry Clinton noted, “There were so many amazing characters in Sausalito, and she was interested in all of them!” But now, she herself has entered into that pantheon of amazing and unique characters who will inspire future generations to come and find a home in Sausalito where they may live and create their life’s dreams.
She is survived by her elder daughter, Kellie Walker of Novato. Her memorial celebration will be held at the Sausalito Woman’s Club, 120 Central Avenue, Sausalito, at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 19.